- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2011

The same behavior that cost Brandon Davies the rest of his basketball season at Brigham Young University might have earned him an “A” at Northwestern.

BYU stunned the college hoops world Wednesday by suspending the 19-year-old sophomore for violating the school’s honor code by having premarital sex with his girlfriend. The same week, Northwestern University drew headlines after a psychology class featured a live sex act.

While both episodes come as a shock, there’s no question which report generated the most heat. The Davies suspension spilled Thursday from the sports section to the front page as commentators debate whether BYU was too tough on the teen for engaging in what would be regarded anywhere else as a youthful indiscretion at worst.

The loss of Mr. Davies comes as an enormous blow to the third-ranked Cougars’ chances for a national championship. The 6-foot-9 forward was regarded as the second-best player on the team, behind only player of the year candidate Jimmer Fredette, in a season that was shaping up as the best in the school’s history.

Even so, BYU boosters and students are for the most part standing behind the school’s decision. An online poll taken by the Deseret (Utah) News found 81 percent of those responding in agreement with the university, with just 9 percent finding the punishment overly harsh.

David Livingston, a BYU freshman and basketball fan, said most students were crestfallen upon hearing the news, concluding that the school’s chances of success had vanished, but that since then the campus has rallied.

“Within a day, students started theorizing about our options on the court. Many people commented on how they missed Davies and still loved him,” Mr. Livingston said in an e-mail. “As of now the status on campus is an understanding and forgiving but slightly disappointed one.”

At the same time, he said, he thought the suspension was fair.

“Everybody at BYU knows the rules and the suspension further reminds everybody on campus that nobody, even a staple of our extremely successful basketball team, is exempt from the rules,” said Mr. Livingston.

The BYU Honor Code requires students to live “a chaste and virtuous life,” but the punishment for transgressions is left up to the Honor Code Office. There’s no double-standard for star athletes: Last year, football player Harvey Unga, the school’s all-time leading rusher, withdrew from BYU after violating the honor code.

Others said the punishment was too severe. An online survey run by the New York Daily News on the Davies punishment found 59 percent of respondents said the issue was “too personal an issue to suspend him from the season,” while 37 percent felt the suspension was appropriate.

ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard said he thought BYU’s handling of the situation was “refreshing,” given that most college basketball teams are out to win at any cost.

“They’re saying, ‘There are certain things more important than winning a game. We’re trying to teach you how to be a man,’ ” Mr. Broussard said. “You know coming in these are the rules.”

Cougars basketball coach Dave Rose said the main issue wasn’t the behavior itself but the violation of the honor code.

“I think a lot of people try to judge this, whether this is right or this is wrong. That’s not the issue,” said Mr. Rose in a postgame statement in the Salt Lake Tribune. “It is a commitment that you make. And everybody makes the commitment.”

The conduct code is apparently more lax at Northwestern University, where President Morton Schapiro called for an investigation Thursday after a psychology professor allowed a couple to engage in a sex act in front of more than 100 students.

“I feel it represented very poor judgment on the part of our faculty member,” Mr. Schapiro said. “I simply do not believe this was appropriate, necessary or in keeping with Northwestern University’s academic mission.”

A guest lecturer performed a live sex act using a motorized device on his fiancee immediately following professor J. Michael Bailey’s human sexuality class after saying the video depicting the act was not sufficiently realistic, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The lecturer, Jim Marcus, appeared before the class as part of a discussion on kink and fetishes. The performance took place after class, attendance was optional and the students repeatedly were warned about the explicit nature of what they were about to see.

Even so, Mr. Schapiro said he was “troubled and disappointed by what occurred.”

Mr. Bailey released a statement Wednesday defending the demonstration, saying that, “the students find the events to be quite valuable, typically, because engaging real people in conversation provides useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional ways.”

Mr. Schapiro’s statement reversed a university statement released Wednesday that defended Mr. Bailey’s methods.

“The university supports the efforts of its faculty to further the advancement of knowledge,” the earlier statement said.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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